A judge ruled on Friday that chemical retardant dropped on wildfires by the US Forest Service was polluting waterways in western states in violation of federal law, but said it could continue to be used to fight fires.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen’s decision in Montana came after environmentalists sued the government for dumping red manure into waterways hundreds of times over the past decade.
Government officials say chemical flame retardants are sometimes essential in slowing the progress of dangerous fires. Wildfires in North America have grown larger and more destructive over the past two decades.
KANSAS WOMAN DIES AFTER FALLING INTO STREAM IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK IN MONTANA
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More than 200 charges of retarder have ended up in waterways over the past decade. Federal officials say these situations have typically occurred in error and in less than 1% of thousands of annual loadouts.
The Oregon-based group Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics argued in its lawsuit filed last year that the Forest Service was violating the Clean Water Act by continuing to use retardant without taking adequate precautions to protect streams and rivers,
A coalition that includes Paradise, California – where a 2018 fire killed 85 people and destroyed the city – had said a court ruling banning the use of timers would have put lives, homes and forests at risk.